Days of Change

To What End?

August 18, 2017
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Looking at the Trump administration so far, it seems that the president’s main motivation is to be validated by his most fervent fans. He schedules nearly monthly rallies to cheering crowds. He tweets bold statements to have an impact on the news. Also, Trump will backslide from more moderate statements when they are viewed as soft by Trumpers. This week was an excellent example. Trump said there was violence on all sides last weekend, which was not helpful to anyone and he gave a more presidential statement on Monday. When reporters challenged him on Tuesday, Trump doubled down on his original tweets.

Trump’s unpopularity with Democrats and Independents is assisted by the media. However, Trump’s unpopularity with Republicans is largely due to his inability to get his agenda through Congress and his willingness to either lose or make primary elections expensive for Senators he needs to pass legislation. Purging the non-believers is a good theory, but it usually results in years of rebuilding.

A year ago, Steve Bannon steered the Mercer family fortune from Ted Cruz to Donald Trump. Rebekah Mercer was a big fan of Bannon and Breitbart.com, Bannon was a fan of the kind of big border wall, trade war with China populism of Donald Trump. Bannon was also the authority for the “alt-right” perspective. Ultimately, Bannon was trying to refocus Trump to his original promises. John Kelley is just trying to get Trump to focus and Bannon was in the way.

Either one of two things will happen. Trump will continue to start petty arguments, write executive orders that fail in the courts and annoy enough of Congress that they will completely block his agenda. Otherwise, Trump will bring on more traditional staff, learn to deal with Congress and disappoint some of his most rabid fans.

I’m concerned that Donald Trump isn’t up to the job of president. I’m annoyed by the people who are unwavering in their support because they keep the president from learning to work with people. Donald Trump is well on his way to alienating two-thirds of the Congress and federal employees. If that’s the plan I have to ask “to what end?” Once every RINO and swamp dweller has been identified, how does that affect change? If Trump wants to be a martyr to the cause, he should hurry up, because Mike Pence is waiting in the wings and Trump can’t fire him.

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Republicans, Conservatives and Anarchists

August 13, 2017
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Unfortunately, Charlottesville was the result of counter-protesting. First, we had the original protest of a “national” group of just over 100 people. They were either racists, nationalists, Nazis or Klansmen, depending on the definition. Then there was the counter-protest of ANTIFA, liberals who have unable to live their lives since the election of Donald Trump and instead “resist” by standing around with signs and yelling. Then there was some counter-counter-protesting by the Alt Right who hates liberals.

The man who drove through the protest appeared to be on the anti-ANTIFA side and apparently marched with the White pride group. He could be a madman like the guy who shot Gabby Giffords, or a mad man like the guy who shot Steve Scalise. The big problem right now is that the Steve Bannon Alt Right who supports Trump is trying to divide themselves from the Alt Right that blames other races for their problems.

Most issues effectively have two sides, but having a party with every permutation of issue bias would make political power impossible. Even in countries with multiple political parties, maybe 3-4 have any influence and one often gets the majority. By the way, Trump would have won in a parliamentary system, given the Congressional demographics.

So, there are two parties in the US with a set of positions on various government and social issues. As the voter, you have to decide which collection you like better. Donald Trump offered a two-fer. He promoted border security, something both parties have been tepid on, as well as promoting tax breaks for business as a way to increase jobs, a combination straddling the Republicans and the Democrats.

The only problem is that the Tea Party and its creation Donald Trump, created a third group within the right side of the political spectrum. There are Republicans, conservatives and the anarchists who gave up on the Republicans and distrust many movement conservatives. When I see Trump and his supporters criticizing Republican lawmakers and complaining about “the swamp,” it looks a lot like a group trying to bring everything down. I’m not surprised, since some of the biggest pro-Trump people were Hillary supporters in 2008 who slowly lost faith as she bolstered her primary rival, Barack Obama.

I can tell you what a Republican is. They register as a party, they appear on ballots and they have conventions. I can tell you about conservatives, but sometimes they vary between the cultural Christians and the free expression libertarians. The anarchists are less obvious. There’s the Alt Right, but there’s also the “Alt Left” Bernie supporters. The Democrats are trying to hold on to that group, even though they tend to blame Bernie Sanders for Hillary Clinton’s loss.

However, I don’t think a group that won’t associate themselves with the GOP or conservatism is going to easily separate themselves from KKK offshoots, especially when they call themselves White nationalists. There are only so many distinct sides.


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The Red Pill

August 8, 2017
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Netflix, the home of Iron Sky, chose not to stream documentary film “The Red Pill.” I finally saw this title on my Hulu trial subscription. It’s interesting because of the recent news about a Google employee blowing the whistle on the company’s new focus on “diversity” over quality of content or technology. The employee write about the differences that made female programmers scarce, while the company took great pains to increase their presence.

The premise is that director Cassie Jaye took the “red pill” and discovered what she thought feminism was about has actually veered into a movement designed to pit male privilege against female empowerment. Jaye herself was an actress who found herself in B-movies with no apparent future. Instead, she started making documentaries with a critical view of conservatives. Ironically, Hollywood, the home of celebrity feminists, ended up being the most sexist, trying to exploit Jaye’s interest in acting to get her clothes off in low-budget productions.

The best summary of “The Red Pill” came when one of the Men’s Rights Activists called the place of men and women in society “a mixed bag.” Women have to spend more on their appearance, they don’t get the highest paid jobs in the country as often and they can be at a physical disadvantage to men. At the same time, men often have the most dangerous jobs, they get much harsher prison sentences and verdicts in family courts and they die about 6 years sooner than women. Everyone has problems, and sometimes there’s no oppressor other than life itself.

Feminism was originally a socialist movement that found itself out of money. The leaders learned the lesson of most leftist movements, donations require an unending struggle that is impossible to win. Second wave (or third, I have no idea at this point) feminism skipped the laws and decided that the society was stopping equality. Progressivism is about changing bad law, socialism is about making new laws to enforce right-think. Of course, donations only continue when the struggle is real.

When bosses weren’t able to force their employees to sleep with them, sexual harassment was defined as women being threatened or abused by co-workers. Eventually, it devolved into employees who saw or overheard things that made them feel bad. That kind of “hostile work environment” will never end because when major offenses are removed, the minor offenses become major.

I go back to the model for all socialism, the French Revolution. When France ended the monarchy and all the royals were dispatched, the leaders of the revolution had to govern. When their promises failed and people with hard jobs and little pay stopped working, people were starving and complaining about it. The solution was to punish complainers. When those people were killed or jailed, the problems persisted. Then people would turn in those who complained privately to curry favor with the government. Eventually, society broke down and the founders of the revolution met the fate of so many of the citizens.

Unfortunately, the feminist movement is large and ill-defined. The resistance is vocal, but not nearly large enough. The one positive about “The Red Pill” is that the conflict does not have to be men vs. women. It’s the sane vs. the insane.


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The Long Pull

August 6, 2017
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Trump supporters have 2 speeds. Bitch and moan or cheer and gloat. Plotting and planning are things traitorous Deep State people do. The definition of Deep State expands and contracts but mostly comprises anyone who isn’t an extension of Donald Trump. The President learned his limits when he signed a bill ending his power to lift sanctions against Russia.

The selling point for autocratic rule is quick and decisive action. The drawback is that benevolent dictatorships are few and far between. A country can speak with one voice, but that voice is accountable to a group of people in democracies. The US has increased the amount of power a president has, mostly due to assent. However, Congress can still take that power back.

The biggest threat to the Trump agenda may be the Mueller investigation. Remember, the FBI was looking primarily into Michael Flynn’s activities. Then Donald Trump fired James Comey. Jeff Sessions had recused himself from Russia matters and his deputy, Rod Rosenstein, appointed a special counsel take Comey’s place. Comey was supposedly fired over the Benghazi investigation, not the Flynn investigation.

I’m actually surprised about the reaction of conservatives who didn’t initially support Trump who have now switched into bitch and moan mode. They fear a soft coup where Democrats are going to stop Trump from changing anything, using investigations and career government people to thwart him. Of course they are. The reason they can is that Trump has both refused to hire Republicans who weren’t obsequious enough and he does not have enough experience on his team to work in federal government.

Let’s go back to the last, best hope to stop government intrusion, Scott Walker. Walker was fought against and was threatened with an early recall election. Walker had a small majority in the legislature, but he had one goal. Wisconsin started to dismantle the government employee unions that were bankrupting the state and funding the Democrats. If you think the Deep State is entrenched, try organized labor in the home state of unionization.

Running against the government is very popular. Governing against the government is not. In the case of the health care bill, it is clear that Trump will not provide any cover if the Republicans pass something that has growing pains and he is likely to put all the blame for any problems on Republicans, even if they passed a full repeal. How do you get more than 95% of all Congressional Republicans to vote for something where they know they are on their own in terms of blame and will be marginalized in terms of credit? A president must lead their party, not herd it.

Personally, the government that governs least governs best. I don’t give a crap about Trump’s agenda because it is disjointed and ever-changing. He spent over a year bashing Republicans and claiming the mantle of a new party where he is king. Here’s the reward. The government is going to run without him and Trump will find fewer defenders in the party that he is nearly at war with anyway.


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Tip of the Spear

July 31, 2017
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Arizona Senator Jeff Flake was not a big fan of Donald Trump from the beginning. Even though he just wrote his version of “The Conscience of a Conservative,” named after the original statement of principles written by Barry Goldwater, Flake was pondering more than his conscience. The Senator is facing a tough reelection next year and he was either going to have to play to the Trump base or run as the anti-Trump. That choice is now clear.

Kelli Ward, an Arizona state senator, is again going for the brass ring of a Senate seat. Even though she publicly suggested that John McCain should step down and she be appointed to the Senate, Ward is actually gunning for Jeff Flake in the GOP primary. She is a full-on Trumper and the president is pretty obviously in her camp. It would be almost impossible for Flake to run to the right of Ward and he has instead decided to take the mantle of “traditional” conservative who believes in ideas, not fighting and signing things just to see his signature.

While Senators Murkowski and Collins are tacitly opposing the Trump steamroller, neither are up for reelection next year. For good or ill, Flake is the tip of the spear. He is ideologically opposed to Trump, even if he votes for Trump-friendly legislation. Trumpers want his head on a platter in the primary next year. Democrats are unimpressed by Flake, even if they have no alternative in their party at the moment. The good news for Trump is that only 7 other GOP Senators have to make a similar decision.


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Endangered Species

July 30, 2017
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I’m not really worried about what Donald Trump will do to this country.

Barack Obama turned out to be largely a tool of the Democratic Party. His presence allowed the Democrats to strip away American exceptionalism by making America a subordinate to globalism. We have partial socialized medicine and a regulatory state that makes being a citizen slightly illegal.

If anything, Trump is a hindrance to the Republican Party. He quit the GOP in 1999 when he tried to become the Reform Party nominee. Months later, he quit the Reform party when he discovered that another colorful billionaire still had control over it. As president, Trump has the power of Executive Orders, but will shortly have limited power over Russian sanctions. He also nominated a Supreme Court justice, but Mitch McConnell’s Senate put him on the bench. The Republican agenda will continue, just less of it.

I am worried about the Republican Party, however. When Ronald Reagan became president, he was also a hindrance to the GOP at the time. They were a party of bean counters, willing to raise taxes to counter spending. They were fighting Communism, but their battle for Civil Rights had recently ended. Blacks with voting rights and equality gave way to Democrats offering welfare. Reagan changed the coalition. Many Carter voters saw his Christian values turn into dope smoking and Iranian hostage misery and blue collar workers suffered the malaise of exploding inflation.

Social conservatism is being reformed into this libertarian model of “do what you want, but leave me alone.” Gay marriage is great, closing bakeries for not catering gay weddings is still bad. Of course, as each domino falls, mostly Christian-based values are marginalized. If you want to see the worst of America’s future, just look at the EU. And if you don’t like the restrictiveness of Christian values, too bad. Socialism’s disdain for the family and Islamic breeding culture means you’ll get Sharia law instead.

Scott Walker, and to a lesser extent Ted Cruz, represented the Christian conservative working within the confines of the Republican Party. Donald Trump represents the old man who used to be a progressive until progress went to fast for him. He knows what he doesn’t like, he’s just not sure why.

In a little over a year, there will be an election and we could very well see a new Republican Party of untethered, Tea Party dilettantes who define their values by what the other side wants.


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The Most Dangerous Man in America

July 28, 2017
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John McCain is a man with (probably) nothing left to lose. Aside from his health, McCain was probably not going to run or win in 2022. He had a choice of either sticking it to Obama, who responded “I won” when McCain questioned the effectiveness of the ACA, or sticking it to Trump when he said McCain wasn’t a war hero because he was a POW. He picked the current guy in the White House.

Trump has been pulling the Obamacare rip cord since the first House vote failed earlier this year. This morning, he yet again referred to Obamacare failing on its own and claiming that will lead to ultimate victory. Yet, he still blames the people who voted no for robbing him of immediate triumph.

Of course, McCain may be the only one who didn’t replay the Obamacare process 7 years later. Remember when a brain cancer-stricken Ted Kennedy was wheeled in to vote for a half-assed bill that was eventually passed by the House with no changes because they had already screwed over the entire Republican Party? This time, a stricken Senator chose not to pass a half-assed bill that could eventually be passed by the House with no changes.

During the landfill fire of a 2016 election season, I watched as Republicans tried to put Jeb, then Rubio and eventually Kasich in front of Trump to get someone other than Ted Cruz nominated. Then I heard about possible convention fights and third party candidates. Then there were the faithless electors, too few to make any difference. Since 2009, the GOP has lived in fear of what the Tea Party might do and Donald Trump is the nightmare.

The party is afraid to do anything and with good reason. Trump wants a health care bill that covers everyone, costs Americans nothing and saves trillions of dollars. Since that is actually impossible, any failures will be blamed on the party Trump is waging war on. In other words, Trump is for Trump, Democrats and Republicans better watch themselves.

The thing that got Trump the Republican nomination, the GOP’s reluctance to make hard decisions, is the same thing that lost the health care repeal. On top of that, there is very little in the way of political cost. Lisa Murkowski already survived being primaried once. Susan Collins can likely beat any challenger as she is the most popular Senator within the confines of a state.

At least we still have that Supreme Court justice. Donald Trump did one thing.


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Doctor Her

July 17, 2017
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Over a decade ago, Doctor Who explained to his companion that the Earth would be gone in the future and that humans would eventually go out among the universe and learn to interact with various aliens. With that, the first bisexual character was created on the show. It was inevitable from there.

Around 2014, I missed a Saturday airing of Doctor Who on BBC America. From there, I found there was no turning back. I have watched very in the little in the way of new episodes. The series had become formulaic, message-heavy and relied too much on bringing back a “classic” villain instead of developing stories about the human condition.

I think the fact that classic fans have become disinterested and a new crop of fanboys / fangirls want to push gender fluidity as far as they can, the producers probably figured a female Doctor would be the best way to keep the struggling series from cancellation (again). Now, if they had dropped this in after David Tennant, I might have been properly pissed, as a Brit might say. Instead, there is no real tradition left anyway.

I doubt if I am anything but indifferent over this.


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Good News, Bad Conclusions

July 15, 2017
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President Trump’s war on the media has been more of a “throw the baby out with the bathwater” than a “one bad apple spoils the bunch” approach. Getting facts wrong isn’t nearly as bad as the wrong conclusions being drawn from information. Is there a crime regarding Trump campaign dealings with Russia? It doesn’t matter, because the authorities have to make those accusations and courts have to draw those conclusions.

Instead of focusing on something that will take months to investigate, yet is reported on daily, here’s a small example of a real story that take pains to draw conclusions that are more opinion than reality. After seeing the story on ABC, I found a Buzzfeed (yeah, Buzzfeed) article about a Mexican town densely populated by dentists. The facts are that Americans are going to Mexico for dental work because these Mexican dentists charge less. That story would be good for about 500 words, so 2000 more go into why this is Donald Trump’s fault and why we need socialized dentistry.

Opening the web page, the actual title states that dental work is so expensive in the US that thousands of Americans go to Mexico to get it done. This is a fact. However, the headline of the page is “A Mexican Town Is Giving Americans Something Donald Trump Can’t: Affordable Dental Care.” That is less accurate, making the story about Donald Trump, who had no involvement in the years it took for that town to set up 600 dental practices or the time it took for thousands of Americans to learn about it.

Interviews focus on retirees and Veterans, neither of whom have inclusive dental coverage. For the sake of the article’s POV, they were asked if they voted for Trump, which they did. The irony is that within the story itself, the author points out that Obamacare largely left out dental coverage in their attempt at socialized medicine. Much like all Buzzfeed stories, they also summarized it in an even more biased YouTube video.

The reason why so many people either distrust or actually hate the media is because they start with a conclusion, then find things to confirm their bias. Cheap dentistry in the US would be good, but did Trump ever argue that Americans shouldn’t visit Mexico or that Mexican dentists shouldn’t treat US citizens? Would voting for Hillary Clinton instead of Donald Trump had led to low dental prices? It sure didn’t under Obama.

Without media commentary, this would be a story about the free market. Dental work is expensive and insurance doesn’t always cover it. You could travel to Mexico, but you don’t know the quality of care and there is time and money involved. The first people to do this version of medical tourism were RV owners, who had time and the vehicle to make the trip. Retirees and some veterans followed. Instead of accreditation, (for 600 dentists) Americans used word of mouth (pun not intended) to find the best dentists. The town in question has done as much as possible to accommodate valuable clients. They set up offices like American dental offices. Their office people speak English (many have been deported from the US). The dentists buy equipment and materials from American suppliers. The Mexican labs where dentures are made are the same ones where American dentists outsource their own appliances.

The facts I mentioned are in the article and the attached video. However, the story is promoted as an attack on Trump, also because of the free market. The anti-Trump media is seeing an increase in sales and viewership, largely due to Trump. It almost seems like free market economics creates solutions to problems and upsides from downsides.


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Yay?

July 11, 2017
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Almost 100 years ago, the Republicans began a dozen year run as the majority in the House and Senate. The Democrats largely ran the table for the next 60 years until Newt Gingrich exploited voter dissatisfaction with both Congressional Democrats and President Clinton. Exactly two Republican presidents since the New Deal have had majorities in both Houses, George W. Bush and Donald J. Trump.

Presidents can say a lot of things, but Congress has the duty to create the laws or repeal them, as the case may be. When the Congress and president are in the same party, it can be a powerful combination. The Democrats managed to use it to spread creeping socialism for generations.

In the game of politics, winning the presidency is defense. You can use it to keep legislation without a clear majority from passing. The legislature is offense. They make the changes and when 1,000 page pieces of legislation are passed, they pretty much control every piece of the machine of government. However, the perception is that the president is the offense and the Congress is the defense.

Part of the problem with Donald Trump is that he believes he is the quarterback. He expects Republicans in Congress to take the hit on Obamacare without putting any proverbial skin in the game. He also thinks it is an essential function of the White House to negate every media story critical of his presidency. Offense may be a good defense, but a rigorous defense may not be any good.

We’re approaching the 6 month mark in this presidential term. Due to the active nature of the White House on social media, support and opposition both remain high. However, mild distaste is also growing. Today’s spin on Donald Trump Jr., semi-advisor to the president, is that even though he talked to Russian surrogates about dirt on Hillary Clinton, nothing illegal happened. However, Don Jr. is also not too bright and therefore can be forgiven for not remembering the meeting, even though he published e-mails of this forgotten meeting within hours.

This is probably the left’s Plan D. Trap Trump in an endless cycle of media trashing while Morning Mika gets a huge book deal, MSNBC ratings are growing and Fox and Friends becomes unwatchable. Meanwhile, a fairly pointless travel ban is being fought in the courts and the Obamacare repeal replace rewrite repair is stalled indefinitely. Conservatives won. Where’s the damn prize?


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